This is a post I have wanted to publish for many years, and I have written similar posts several times. However, they ended up being too preachy, and Jordan thought I should refrain from posting them. But today I am going to push the publish button. But first, I am going to be nice. Bicycle safety is a topic I am VERY passionate about. I just want to keep those of you who ride around the block, or with your kids and grandkids on trails, or go long distances to be safe and smart. I have ridden thousands and thousands of miles all over the world, and I feel very competent in passing on some of my knowledge to you. So, today we are going to discuss bicycle safety for kids and adults. We are going to just touch on the highlights. I could write and write about this topic thanks to the training and advice I have received from more experienced riders over the years.
HELMETS, HELMETS, HELMETS
Always wear a helmet. Even if you are only going to the end of the driveway or around the block or will be on trails, or away from traffic, wear a helmet. I will not even sit on a bicycle without my helmet. And if you are a parent riding with your child, wear a helmet. You put a helmet on your child, but if you get a head injury from a crash, who will care for him/her? I could tell you many horror stories about helmets about people who didn’t wear helmets. I will tell you just one, and it does involve a helmet: a helmet saved my husband’s life. He had a crash a few years ago, and it was just him and his bike. He was in ICU with a concussion for five days and didn’t die because of his helmet. And….he wasn’t cycling fast. So, wear a helmet. A brightly colored one is even better. You can buy a helmet here. They have a broad range of prices, but even the cheap ones have to adhere to certain safety codes.
Make sure your bicycle fits you properly – especially the seat height. It should be at a certain height so you will be comfortable and get more benefits from the revolutions of your legs. If your seat is too low, it will put unneeded stress on your knees. Also, carry a patch kit and an air pump so that you can repair a flat if you have one. It’s no fun to have to push your bicycle home because you can’t repair a flat. (I know this from experience). And if you do get a flat, be sure to get out of traffic before you repair it. Have the bike situated so that you can see oncoming traffic while you are changing/fixing your tire. If you do have to push your bike home, have your bike between you and the traffic. That’s so a car will hit it before it hits you. And by the way, this is my road bike. It is a custom made titanium bike that I have had about 15 years. It’s an Independent Fabrication, and it was the USA bike of the year a few years back. I went to raised handle bars from drop handle bars last year due to some sciatic issues. I love my bike a lot. I have another bike for running errands in town. I ordered it from the Netherlands, and it was the bike of the year last year in the Netherlands. I like it a lot, too.
In these days of texting drivers, drunk drivers, drugged drivers, and distracted drivers, it’s good to know what’s going on behind you – just in case a car is headed toward you. I have a helmet mirror, but you can also buy them to fit on your handle bars. You can buy a helmet mirror here. You can buy handle bar mirror here.
We, along with most of our cycling friends, have lights on our bicycles. You can buy them for the front and the back. Spend the money and get the good ones that put out more light. Use them all the time. They will help drivers see you. You can buy a headlight here. You can buy a tail light here.
Be sure to have a way to carry a water bottle with you when you are cycling. Getting dehydrated is not safe. You can buy water bottle cages that will screw onto your bike with brackets or will velcro onto your bike. The cages on my road bike are screwed in, and the cage on my hybrid is attached with velcro. If you want more, you can buy a small back pack that holds your water, and you drink from it using a tube. Screw on bottle cages are here. Velcro cages are here. Water bottles are here.
Cyclists are supposed to follow the same traffic rules as cars, if you are riding in the street. Thankfully, towns and cities across the country are becoming more bicycle friendly and are providing bike lanes on main roads. Even on those lanes, you are supposed to follow the traffic rules and signs. Lexington, along with many cities across the country, has come so far since we started serious bicycling about 20 years ago, and we are very happy about that.
There…..I think that I was nice enough about bicycle safety, don’t you? The bottom line is to wear a helmet and think smart and ride smart. A car is always going to win, so be aware.
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